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Bennett unfazed by absence of Burgess and Burns

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett insists the late scratching of Sam Burgess and Braidon Burns won't hinder the mission to topple ladder-leaders Melbourne on Sunday.

Burgess was controversially set to face the Storm at Central Coast Stadium after having a grade two reckless high tackle charge downgraded by the judiciary on Tuesday.

But the football gods intervened and the England international forward suffered a quadriceps strain at Thursday's training.

Strike outside back Burns is battling a minor hamstring problem. Kyle Turner, who deputised in the back-line when Burns was injured earlier this year, moves to centre again.

Halfback Adam Reynolds sat out the captain's run session but is a certain starter.

Bennett confirmed neither Burgess or Burns's injuries are serious and said he isn't stressing over their absences.

"[Burgess] is not too bad, it's not going to be long-term. Maybe one week, maybe two," Bennett said.

Rabbitohs v Storm - Round 21

"Braidon's got a bit of a hamstring strain. The scans are showing no injury but there's something going on there, so he's not confident. 

"We are at full strength. Everybody's fit that's playing and the guys that aren't fit can't play. It won't alter what we've got to do, we're playing an absolutely quality footy team and we've got to be good ourselves."

Fullback Alex Johnston remains indefinitely sidelined due to a knee complaint, with Bennett unable to predict the flyer's return date.

"Another week's gone by and [Johnston] is still not back. We don't know when he'll be back, he doesn't know either and the doctors don't know," Bennett said.

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However, the seven-time premiership-winning mentor is pleased about the gradual improvement of 21-year-old Adam Doueihi, who has worn the No.1 jersey for the past four matches.

"[His progression has] been slow but it's been good. He's doing a lot of right things and he's getting better each week," Bennett said.

"It's been a big adjustment for him but he's handled it pretty good."

Bennett criticised his fourth-placed side for lacking enthusiasm against Cronulla last round, labelling the crushing 39-24 defeat Souths' worst effort of the season.

But he's optimistic that was an aberration and believes his players are in a good mental state heading into the stern Storm challenge.

"You've got to pay some attention to it but at the same time you've got to move on pretty quick because you've got another game coming up and you can't carry your baggage with you," Bennett said.

"I'm confident they'll be better than what they were Saturday night last week. [Melbourne] have been a top team for a long period of time and nothing's changed  ... It's timely for us, we probably need this game."

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While the point is now moot, Bennett passionately attested that Burgess rightfully avoided suspension for his shot on Matt Moylan, who missed the Sharks' loss to Penrith on Friday with concussion.

"A lot of people don't understand the system, but if you look at the grade one [high tackle charges], Sam was very comparable to what people had been charged with previously," Bennett said.

"We didn't plead not guilty - we understood he's done the wrong thing - but at the same time he was graded grade two and it wasn't comparable with all the other ones that have gone before and been graded a grade one."

Bennett dismissed suggestions Burgess needed to alter his aggressive tackling style.

"He does a lot of tackles in a game, so he does a lot of right ones," he said.

"We've just got to make sure he doesn't make any more of the wrong ones."


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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